Page last updated at 16:51 GMT, Sunday, 19 April 2009 17:51 UK

Hillsborough files may be opened

Leppings Lane end at 1507 BST
Ninety six Liverpool fans were killed at the FA Cup semi-final

Calls for secret files about the Hillsborough disaster to be made public 10 years early have been backed by the home secretary.

Jacqui Smith supported calls by culture secretary Andy Burnham for a disclosure of material locked away for 20 years.

South Yorkshire police denied reports that its Chief Constable had discussed the matter with Ms Smith.

She said she is committed to releasing any relevant information into the public domain "as soon as possible".

Evidence from the police, council and ambulance services are contained in the documents, which were supposed to remain undisclosed to the public for 30 years.

Relatives of the football fans who died hope the documents will support their belief that the emergency services could have done more to save some of the victims.

The release of the files will now depend on talks involving the Justice Ministry, the Attorney General's office and other organisations.

'Full picture'

In a statement Ms Smith said: "The Government is committed to helping those who lost loved ones in the Hillsborough tragedy."

She said she would work with government colleagues to "put out any information that exists that could shed light on the disaster and its aftermath in the public domain as soon as possible."

Trevor Hicks, of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, said: "I am pleased, it's better late than never.

Trevor Hicks: "We hope government throws Pandora's box open"

"This will enable us to see the full picture of events in a way that we have been denied for 20 years.

"It is vital that these files are released in full and not sanitised in anyway."

He also requested that the families are given time to view the documents before they are made public.

"Some of the documents are bound to contain information about the manner in which our loved ones died, their medical conditions and so on.

"I think it's best if we learn of that ourselves and not through other parties."

Culture secretary Andy Burnham was heckled as campaigners shouted "Justice for the 96" at the Hillsborough memorial service on Wednesday.

Following the service, he called for "full disclosure" of all evidence on the Hillsborough disaster.

Kevin Robinson: 'We just want the facts about what happened'

Kevin Robinson, former chairman of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign added: "The memorial service on Wednesday, I think had an affect on Andy Burham, the culture secretary.

"He saw how the pain was still there and he heard the chants for justice, it is high time the government realised that something should be done."

Inquest ruling

Evidence was examined during the original inquest, in which the coroner ruled all victims had sustained their fatal injuries by 3.15pm, based on advice from pathologists.

As a result, he did not hear any evidence of what happened after that point - but many bereaved families believe their loved ones could have still been alive and they want a fresh inquiry.

Sheffield MP Clive Betts was the leader of Sheffield City Council at the time of the disaster.

He welcomed the calls for the early release of the papers but said he believed the council documents would reveal little that was new.

He said: "I think the council . . .was upfront at the time in terms of officers explaining precisely what they had done in terms of inspecting and licensing of the ground before the disaster."



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